Everyone’s heard of cats getting stuck in trees, but what about a bird getting stuck up high in the branches of a tree? It may sound strange, but that’s exactly what happened to “Max,” a hyacinth macaw owned by Richard Bloch and his wife, Susan, the owners of the new Dickens Parlour Theatre on Route 26.
Max is only 1 year old, and macaws can live more than 80 years. He has a 4.5-foot wingspan.
“He’s just part of the family,” said Bloch. “He’s a big loveable bird that thinks he’s a dog.”
Bloch was doing some work in the theater on Saturday, June 26, while Max watched, occasionally flying over to say hello. Bloch went to retrieve something from his car, unaware that Max was flying over, and the large blue bird flew right outside.
“He just took off like a streak,” said Bloch. “He flies very well.”
Max had never been outside before, but Bloch said his innate instinct took over, and he soared to a high tree but didn’t appear to know how to come down.
That’s when Bloch called for reinforcements: the Millville fire department.
“They were just sensational,” said Bloch. The fire department brought their bucket truck over, and Bloch went up to try and retrieve Max, but the bird was frightened and flew across the street to an even taller tree.
After three visits from the fire department, night began to fall, and Bloch and his wife began to lose hope. He made one last call out to Max, and he heard a squawk in reply. Max had returned to a tree just outside the theater.
Bloch said macaws do not usually move around at night, so at dawn, he went out to try and coax Max down again. His wife had gotten the number of Tim Driver of Jim Driver and Son Professional Tree Service, and enlisted their help. By dawn, Max had relocated to a tree behind the Millville Town Center. Tim Driver and his family arrived to try to help.
Pete Marshall, an Ocean View resident, took notice of Max’s situation and stuck around to lend support and take pictures during the rescue.
“It was remarkable,” Marshall said. “That young man climbed that tree like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
Driver said the rescue was the worst he’d ever encountered, since he was unfamiliar with parrots and because he was more than 70 feet in the air.
“It was definitely out of my field,” he said.
It took about 45 minutes of sweet-talking and feeding Max grapes before he would come close enough for Driver to get a hand on him. After about 10 to 15 minutes of struggling, he was finally able to get him.
Bloch said Driver climbed 100 feet in the air with a handful of grapes to rescue Max. When he came close, Driver grabbed Max and put him in a pillowcase, then brought him down to safety, to a very relieved family.
“He was hungry and thirsty, but otherwise he was fine,” said Bloch.
The very next day, Max got his wings clipped. His flight range is now only 3 feet.
“It was a real nice happy ending,” said Marshall. “They got Max back, and they were all very happy.”